Kennedy rallies party behind Kerry

Democratic stalwart Edward Kennedy is looking to pull off his last hurrah by putting protege John Kerry in theWhite House.

    The Massachusetts senator is the Democratic party's liberal icon

    Kennedy took the podium at

    the Democratic convention in his Boston stronghold on Tuesday to herald his

    junior Senate colleague as the country's saviour after four years of

    Republican rule.

    "Our struggle is with the politics of fear and favouritism in our

    own time, in our own country," he told 5000 delegates

    . "Our struggle is with those who put their own narrow interest

    ahead of the public interest."

    Making a passionate plea for traditional Democratic values

    protecting the poor and the afflicted, Kennedy drew a sharp contrast

    between his party and a Bush administration he said had burned its

    bridges with the rest of the world.

    Unifying force

    "Interdependence defines our world. For all our might, for all

    our wealth, we know we are only as strong as the bonds we share with

    others," he told the crowd.

    "America needs a genuine uniter," he said. "And John Kerry has

    the skill and the judgment and the experience to lead us on that

    great journey."

    "I am personally convinced that if John Kerry was president of

    the United States during that time we never would have had an Iraq

    war. We never would have gone to war"

    Senator Edward Kennedy

    The two men have known each other since 1971 when Kerry, a

    decorated Vietnam veteran, travelled to Washington to join protests

    against the war.

    "I saw right into his soul, saw the inner angst, the suffering

    that he had experienced, the sense of loss that he had seen, and the

    passion that he had in terms of a failed and mistaken national

    policy," Kennedy said.

    "I'm a very strong believer in John Kerry. And I think the

    people will make a judgment at the time he announces. They'll make a

    judgment on Thursday night when they see him."

    Iraq war

    Nevertheless, there have been tensions between the two over the years.

    Kerry

    has often had to live in the shadow of his illustrious Massachusetts

    partner, who has been in the Senate for nearly 42 years. But they

    have built up strong links.

    Kennedy twice tried to seek the
    party's presidential nomination

    Kennedy has for months been speaking out for Kerry, defending

    the Democratic candidate's vote in Congress for the Iraq invasion

    when he had voted against.

    "I am personally convinced that if John Kerry was president of

    the United States during that time we never would have had an Iraq

    war. We never would have gone to war," Kennedy said on

    Sunday.

    Now Kerry is at centre stage in the convention which is being

    held in the New England home of the legendary Kennedy family.

    Final flourish

    Many

    people believe it may be the last great national battle fought by

    Kennedy.

    He has twice run for the presidential nomination to take up the

    mantle of his assassinated brothers John and Robert. But he says

    there is no bitterness about seeing Kerry overtake him.

    Kerry is running neck and neck
    with the president in opinion polls

    "My pursuit is public service, not the constant pursuit of the

    presidency," Kennedy insisted.

    "I said that almost 25 years ago. So I've been honoured to serve

    in the United States Senate. I love the United States Senate. And

    we've been able to get a number of things done in the United States

    Senate."

    To many conservatives, Kennedy is the archetypal northern

    left-winger. The death of a female campaign aide in a controversial

    car accident in July 1969 tarnished his reputation and all but

    killed his White House hopes.

    Democratic patriarch

    But Kennedy is also seen as the incarnation of the power of the

    Democratic party and its conscience.

    "He's the patriarch of the party, the good old man who has a lot

    of influence and who's respected among Republicans here," said

    Denton Crews who was at university with Kennedy.

    "Our struggle is with the politics of fear and favouritism in our

    own time, in our own country.

    Our struggle is with those who put their own narrow interest

    ahead of the public interest"

    Senator Edward Kennedy

    "He has stood for liberal positions nobody would have stood for,

    on health care, education, he's very effective on the floor of the

    Senate, he always had the very best staff, he speaks out on issues

    and when he does he's listened," added Crews.

    "He would have made a good president, but maybe he was too young

    then."

    Kennedy's four decades in the Senate make him the third longest

    serving member of the body. But he shows no sign of stepping down

    and says he will stand again in 2006.

    "I intend to stay in this job until I get the hang of it," he

    told the convention.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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